How I Made It

Eventbrite CEO explains how she grew her company when every VC said 'no'

Julia Hartz, co-founder and CEO of Eventbrite, wanted to re-imagine ticket sales.

"The idea was really to democratize ticketing," Hartz told CNBC. "We wanted to harness the power of technology to make it possible for anyone to sell tickets to any type of event."

Since it was founded in 2006, Eventbrite has become one of the largest self-service ticketing platforms. In 2015, the company sold 2.1 million tickets, and it expects "significant growth" for this year.

But it was not an easy path to success.

Eventbrite’s headquarters in San Francisco, California.
Source: Eventbrite
Eventbrite’s headquarters in San Francisco, California.

In the wake of the 2007 financial crisis, Hartz, along with co-founders Kevin Hartz (now her husband) and Renaud Visage, were seeking funding.

"It was the worst time to raise capital," she said. "We met with every VC up and down Sand Hill Road, and we were rejected."

"And so we really, really had to dig in and focus on our business model and grow."

Julia Hartz, co-founder and CEO of Eventbrite.
Source: Eventbrite
Julia Hartz, co-founder and CEO of Eventbrite.

For Julia Hartz, the experience was "one of the most challenging times throughout the last 10 years."

It forced the company to look inward, revisit the business plan and figure out how to grow.

"If you think about stripping away 80 percent of the things that don't matter and focusing on the the 20 percent that will actually make a difference, I think you'll find great results even in the toughest of situations and the harshest of environments," Hartz said.